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Crops for Cover Crop Cocktails

February 14, 2017

 

The following is a list of crops commonly used for cover crop cocktails and the pros and cons of each plant:

 

LEGUMES

Berseem Clover

- Cool season legume

- Nitrogen fixation - Needs inoculant

- Shallow taproot

- Sensitive to grazing

- 140,000 seeds per pound - 4 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Slender stems

- Moderate C:N ratio

- Mycorrhizal association

 

Persian Clover

- Cool season legume

- Nitrogen fixation, flooding tolerance

- Grazing tolerant

- Branching taproot

- 140,000 seeds per pound - 4 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Tight C:N ratio

- Forms mycorrhizal association

 

Crimson Clover

- Cool season legume

- Nitrogen fixation - requires inoculation

- Taproot

- 149,000 seeds per pound - 4 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Good shade tolerance

- Mycorrhizal association

- Fair regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

BROADLEAVES

Phacelia

- Cool season broadleaf forb

- Soil stabilizer

- 240,000 seeds per pound (7 seeds/sq ft/pound) - 1/2 to 3 pounds per acre

- Bees love the flowers

- Moderate C:N ratio ( 12:1)

- High producer of glomulin

- Forms mycorrhizal association

- Fair regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Buckwheat

- Cool season broadleaf

- Warm season growth characteristics

- Nutrient scavenger, weed suppression, attracts pollinators

- Enhances soil P availability

- Dense fibrous root

15,000 seeds per pound - 0.4 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Quick establishment, very frost sensitive

- Moderate C:N ratio (14:1)

- No mycorrhizal association

- Limited regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Safflower

- Warm season broadleaf

- Nutrient scavenger, saline tolerant, drought tolerant, attracts pollinators

- Tap root

- 12,500 seeds per pound - 0.3 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Spines on leaves

- C:N ratio is wide at maturity (50:1)

- Forms mycorrhizal association

- Fair regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Chicory

- Warm season broadleaf

- Late season growth

- Can be perennial, usually winter kills it here

- Nutrient scavenging, breaks compaction, weed suppression

- 425,000 seeds/pound

- 11 seeds/sq ft/pound

- Tight C:N ratio

- Fair regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Plantain

- Cool season broadleaf

- Soil Stabilizer, fall grazing, weed suppression

- 320,000 seeds per pound, 8.8 seed/sq ft/pound

- Tight C:N ratio

- High protein content

- Mycorrhizal association

- Good regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Sunflower

- Warm season growth broadleaf

- Nutrient scavenger, breaks compaction

- Oilseed sunflowers

- 60,000 seeds/pound - 1.6 seed/sq ft/pound

- Decent salinity tolerance

- End of season C:N is wide (40:1)

- Forms mycorrhizal association

- Stalks may cause cuts on cattle

- No regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

BROADLEAVES - BRASSICAS

Forage Brassica

- Cool season broadleaf Brassica

- Nutrient scavenger

- 150,000 seeds per pound

- 4 seed/sq ft/pound

- Easy to establish

- Small tuber, reduces choking risk when grazing

Very high RFV and protein

- Tight C: N ratio (10:1)

- No Mycorrhizal association

- Good regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Tillage Radish

- Cool season broadleaf Brassica

- Nutrient scavenger, weed suppresion, breaks compaction

- 33,000 seeds per pound (0.7 seeds/sq ft/pound)

- Quick to establish

- Bolts after 6 weeks of growth

- Very high RFV and protein

- Tight C:N ratio (9:1)

- No mycorrhizal association

- Good regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

CEREALS

Annual Rye

- Cool season grass

- Nutrient scavenger, builds Organic matter, fibrous root

- 193,000 seeds per pound

- 5 seeds/ sq ft/pound

- Low drought tolerance

- Vegetative Tight

- Maturity Wide

- Mycorrhizal association

- Good regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

Japanese Millet

- Warm season grass

- One of few millets that regrows

- Nutrient scavenger, fibrous root

- 142,000 seeds/ pound

- 4 seeds/ sq ft/ pound

- Very rapid growth in warm nights

- Mycorrhizal association

- Good regrowth after grazing/cutting

 

By: Dr. Yamily Zavala, Chinook Applied Research Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo Credit: Lee Gunderson

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